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  • Beqanna

    COTY

    Jamie -- Year 213

    QOTY

    “"I don’t know how to do this,” she says. What she actually means is I’m sorry, but she doesn’t know how to apologize either." --Titanya, written by Mirage


    [open]  a sky full of song
    #1

    Nash had promised Ellie that when the sun finally dawned, they would take her first real flight. No more of this practicing along the Taigan coast, trying to practice her landings in the limited clearings of the Redwoods. When their world suddenly became awash in color again, Nashua had found his eldest child and smiled. They were taking a trip, he had told the adolescent pegasus when the sun was (finally) rising again in the East.

    It had taken them longer to reach Islandres than if it had just been himself but the striped stallion can't help but feel his chest flame within at the pride he feels as Elegance flaps her white wings ahead of him. She isn't prepared for the updrafts that come blasting up from the Tephran shore or the way that the breezes abruptly change once there is nothing between them but the sea and the sky. He watches as she struggles to keep her balance at some points (and he struggles to let her find it) but the younger pegasus eventually does.

    She misses the way his broad smile swells, full of Elegance's accomplishment. Her first flight. Her first real flight and the white-and-gold filly trots a circle befitting of her namesake by the time that they have landed. Nashua shakes out his speckled wings and glances up towards one of the nearby branches, his green eyes searching for the familiar shape of Erne. "Don't go far," he tells his eldest daughter. Elegance is far more interested in the strange wooden structures that she spies in the distance than anything her father is saying.

    A pale ear flicks back to her sire and Nashua - well familiar with her wandering mind - reels her back in. With light back in their world, there is a lot to see."Stay nearby and I'll show you the broadside of the island. The dolphins might have returned," Nashua adds. He hopes that this might be enough to appease this child who has all of his and Noel's wandering combined. The girl nods and moves away, fascinated with the things that have washed up along the dark beach as well as the new scenery. He tries to keep a careful eye on her as she grows smaller and looking towards the nearest open branch, he calls out for his brother."Gale?" The striped stallion cries out, "anybody home?"

    NASHUA
    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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    #2
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    Gale has not yet grown tired of looking at Islandres in the sunlight. He thinks it unlikely that he ever will, which in part is why he has never left the island after his initial arrival over a decade ago. Today he is peering into the shallow waters of a tidepool, watching a myriad of shades of black rippling beneath the water in the sand and stones and shellfish.

    He’s looking through the eyes of an osprey like the one that his brother searches for, but unlike black Erne and the other natives of the island, Gale wears his iridescent navy coloring, complete with pale stripes and wings.

    It is the girl he sees first, wandering down the shore. He lifts his head, his blue eyes following her progress for a moment. Then he glances back to where she has come from, because he has decided she is young enough to have not come alone. Just as he does, he hears his name being called, and he takes to the sky.

    It’s an instinctive reaction, but he hadn’t expected it at all. He is not usually so easily startled.

    By the time he is circling over Nashua, Gale’s heart rate has calmed. He is even smiling genuinely when he shifts back into a horse after landing, pleased to see his brother.

    “It’s good to see you,” he says, blue eyes dancing with good humor. “I was worried you’d freeze solid up there in the North.”

    Nashua

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    #3

    One copper ear flicks back to the jungle behind him and then the blazed-face stallion looks up, turning a considering gaze upon the winged creature circling above him. Nashua thinks it is Erne momentarily; he glances up too quick and the sunlight blinds him so all that Nash sees is the generic shape of wing, the shadowy outline of a large Osprey. He assumes it's Erne and yet the bird that comes down is not a bird at all.

    It shifts easily (with a kind of supernatural grace that Nash hasn't witnessed since he was small); sheds the feathers for skin and his brow furrows when Nashua sees that the skin is brindled and blue. Whatever apprehension had been there is momentarily forgotten because this is Gale, smiling and so the chestnut pegasus grins wildly in return. "Winds," the striped pegasus blows out through his pale nostrils. "It's good to see you, Gale." Settling his dark wings against his sides (and making sure that Elegance remained within his line of sight), Nashua looked to his older brother.

    At the mention of the North, the winged stallion only grins broader. "And here I was worried that you had become shark bait." There had been far worse things that roamed the Darkness than the sharp-teeth creatures that Nashua had sometimes glimpsed from above and the joke is only that - a jest. He'd come to Islandres a few times before, the only real distance he had dared when the Eclipse had come, worried for Gale. His brother hadn't been here though.

    Now he wonders if he simply hadn't looked hard enough.

    "How goes life on the sandbar?" he teases, taking a step forward to greet his brother. "Happy to have the lights back on?"

    NASHUA
    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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    #4
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you




    Though he doesn’t reply aloud, Gale’s wide smile is a perfect reflection of Nashua’s - bright and happy and pleased to see his brother again.

    “They might’ve tried,” he hints with a playful raise of his brow, “But I guess I’m not too tasty.” Though he speaks of the incident lightly now, regrowing his leg from the cannon down had been rather uncomfortable in the moment. His right hind leg is entirely cremello as a result, like the rest of his magically healed injuries.

    “More than happy,” Gale responds, nodding his head in emphasis as he glances out over the shoreline. Though many of the island’s flora had been damaged by the lack of light, magic seems to have played a hand, and already there is fresh multi-colored growth everywhere he can See.

    With the return of the light, he has felt the shadows within him grow smaller, as if they shrink from the light of the sun. Like the Monsters, he’d thought once. Eyas hadn’t ever mentioned anything like that when she talked about the Curse.

    So he is more than happy, both to see the light and his brother. Curious too, because he’d brought someone with her, though the girl is out of sight by now.

    “Yourself? And who was that little one, the white filly?”


    Nashua
    Reply
    #5

    "They spit you back out?" Nash retorts, his brow rising in reply to Gale's light-hearted arching one. His green eyes glance over the brindled stallion again, noting the cremello hindleg. It makes him all the more conscious of the zig-zagging scar that lines his copper chest towards his left wing. The monsters might be gone but they hadn't fully disappeared; evidence of their existence marred hides and minds across Beqanna.

    Nash is eager to agree with Gale, happy that the light had returned and the creatures that had lurked would be reduced to memory.

    He is content to breathe a sigh of relief - genuine and a reflection of the tropical paradise around them - as his blazed head nods in agreement. "Yes," he tells Gale easily. "We were lucky in Taiga," he explains, indicating that he and others who had been on the Isle had taken shelter beneath the mighty trees of the North. "There was a mare and her daughter skilled in plant magic. If not for them, we might have all starved." He goes on and then his green eyes go searching down the shoreline past Gale, a frown emerging on his handsome face when his daughter does not.

    Casting a knowing look at his older brother, Nashua gives him an easy smile. "My eldest," he says quietly. "Well past time for her first trip." Taiga might be known as a vast and deep forest but for Elegance, she needed more room than the mysterious wood had to offer. "If we had tried to keep her home much longer, the monsters might have made better company." He understood her desire; he knew it all too well. The want for open sky. The desire for freedom as it blew through spread wings. To be above the world, to be untouchable, unreachable from the troubles that could be found on the ground.

    Had the world not gone dark, had the times not been so perilous, he would have gladly let Ellie go searching for it.

    But that was in the past. The future lay ahead and Nash was determined to make amends with his bristling firstborn. Starting with this trip to Islandres.

    The younger stallion watches as she vanishes into the jungle again and can only flare his nostrils, reminding himself that it was far better she goes searching for adventure on Gale's island instead of the Common Lands (or worse, to the East like Yanhua's daughters had). Nash mentions that the adolescent has a twin sister back in the Taigan woods, that there is another sibling due any day. This excursion is close enough that they can return home before dark (some part of the striped stallion dreads the night in a way that he never has before). Nashua settles his speckled wings again, trying to return his focus on Gale and not where his daughter has gone.

    "You don't happen to have any blue bundles of joy to occupy her while we're here, do you?" He half-jokes. Shaking his head, he adds: "Just so long as you don't have a resident Kraken in one of your tidal pools."

    Or worse, he thinks.

    Boys.

    NASHUA
    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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    #6
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    “I only let them get a small taste,” he replies, and this time he does raise and resettle his hind leg. It’s not a conscious movement, the adjusting of his pale gold foot, and it reminds him of the day - perhaps night - when he’d lost it. It’s not something he wants to think about though, and there are many better thoughts with which to distract himself.

    Nashua speaks of plant mages, and Gale nods, glad that the residents of the forest had not gone hungry. He wonders what a plant mage might do here in Islandres, where the plants are already the most wonderful, but before he gets far with that line of thinking he notices the frown on his brother’s face.

    Not a frown at him, he knows, but rather toward the absent girl.

    “Erne is watching her,” he tells his flaxen-haired sibling reassuringly. No harm will come to her that Gale is not immediately aware of.

    “Did I hear ‘we’? Found someone worth settling down with, then?” He is happy for Nashua, and it shows in his curious question, and the interest with which he listens to his brother tell him of his family back in the redwood forest. At the mention of children of his own and krakens, Gale shakes his head with a laugh.

    “Aedan and Vita might have one about her age.” The brindle suggests, uncertain exactly how old Elegance might be. Something occurs to him now, as he adjusts his own sight to double check that the young filly is not getting up to anything troublesome as she explores.

    “About how long does it take for one to get that big?” Gale asks curiously, refocusing his blue gaze back on his younger brother. With three children, this seems like something that Nashua will know, and is something that Gale hadn’t really thought much about until he’d begun contemplating a bucket list.

    Nashua
    Reply
    #7

    "How considerate of you," he grins back at Gale.

    His green eyes glance down to the hind leg again - noting the gold coloration - and an unspoken question sparks behind Nashua's watchful gaze. It's the monsters, he assumes, that left behind that rather impressive scar. How many has Gale had to fight on his island? Had been here alone all this time?

    That thought gnaws on him. Nashua should have come sooner; should have offered the safety and shelter of Taiga to his brother and whoever else might call this tropical place home. But there is no undoing the past and he has to content himself that Gale survived the Darkness just fine. If anything, that all-seeing Sight of his might have kept him one step ahead of the shadow monsters.

    "Noel." Nash says and though he still wears his trademark smile - lopsided and boyish - it softens at the mention of the white pegasus mare. Their first meeting is a fond and favorite memory of his, the way that the white mare had scoffed at him and he had still managed to drag her into the sky with him. "When we met, I might have implied she should take more care with her landings and she thought I was a serial killer." The striped pegasus laughs and should the other borrow his vision, Gale could see the moment clear enough for himself.

    "One moment you're trying to convince somebody that you won't lure them to an early demise," Nash muses to his older brother as he grows more comfortable on the beach (and its an easy thing to do, especially since he knows that Erne is about), "Next thing you know, you're raising teenagers together."

    Adolescent daughters are something else entirely is what the look on Nashua's blazed face says.

    "Ellie and her sister, Lumi, are entering their second summer." He explains with a lamenting sigh. It's like he said - those two years (even with the Darkness hanging above them) have gone exceptionally fast. An ear flicks back and then his flaxen tail twitches in response when the striped filly emerges from one thicket to disappear into another. Shaking his head, he wears a rueful smile when he looks towards the older pegasus.

    With his daughter engrossed with Islandres and its wonders, Nash continues to talk of life in the North. Leilan still rules from the Isle with plans for some kind of celebration soon. Yanhua has taken the helm of Taiga. Popinjay still flutters in Nerine, keeping an eclectic collection of shiny rocks and unusual plants. The thought of his twin within the Redwoods makes him think of the other sibling (one that he has never met but listens for all the same) that lives here with Gale.

    "How has Eyas been?"

    NASHUA
    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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    #8
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    Had Gale seen the question in his brother’s gaze, he’d have answered, but there is quite a lot to read in Nashua’s face. Most of it seems to be happy though, so Gale does not look much deeper. He has put the loss - and regrowth - of his foot behind him both figuratively and now literally as he resettles his weight on the black sand.

    The single word that Nashua gives him - Noel - must be the name of the mare that his brother speaks of. Gale listens, curious, and smiles when he realizes that Nashua has made borrowing his vision that much easier.

    She is pretty, this Noel, even if she is not the prettiest white mare he has ever seen, and Gale is happy for his brother. It is almost sounding as if having children is a rather quick affair, if teenagers happen so quickly, but then Nashua tells him that the filly he’d seen so briefly was two years old.

    Years? But she was still just a baby, barely more than a fledgling. Gale frowns, but he has little time to devote to the math he has already put off once, because Nashua is telling him about the North, and Gale does want to know. So he listens, and the frown that he hadn’t meant to show disappears. The thought of a festival is exciting, and Gale makes it clear he intends to go as well.

    He is just thinking that perhaps he will ask Mazikeen to come along as well, when Nashua asks about Eyas. Gale shrugs before he can think about it, the “No idea,” conveyed as clearly as if he’d said it aloud.

    “She’s gone, but she’s fine.” Gale’s surety is born of his magic; she is refusing to show him where she is, but her refusal means she is alive and well. He’s not exactly sure how to tell Nashua why she is gone, so instead he adds:

    “I’ve decided to move to Hyaline.”


    Nashua

    Reply
    #9

    It's easy to lose himself in the past few years because they have been happy ones. (He hadn't intended for things to go quite so far with Noel but the white pegasus had been a welcome distraction when his loss in the Alliance was still stinging.) But the birth of his daughters has ushered in a stage of Nashua's life that has been full - with this family that he has helped create, with the bonds that he has formed within Taiga and the Isle. It almost makes it seem like his dream of having his responsibilities and family become one-and-the-same possible.

    That what his Aunt Elena once told him - that responsibilities and families could be heavy things to carry - could intertwine. That the weight of the other might be balanced and shared between the two.

    Those are the dreams for the striped pegasus. That is what he hopes for the North, even if the kindling for those ideas never reaches past the fires of his ever-adventuring heart. As he watches Ellie move along the beach - marvel at one thing on the shore and another in the jungle - and away from him, he knows that isn't fair to hope she will stay in the North. She is far too much like him, he knows and the sky has been calling her name before the world went dark. This trip might placate her for a time but he knows eventually that it won't suffice; she'll want to see the world and Nash can't fault her for that.

    Part of him still wants to see the world, too.

    The words fall from his mouth, a reaction that startles him from his distracted thoughts. "What?" He turns his blazed face to Gale, puzzled by the news. She had gone, he says and Gale seems unperturbed by the thought. (It's different for Nash who can't imagine the Taiga without Yan; can't imagine not knowing where his twin was but as he had been taught, the path that he walks will not be the same for another.)

    Gale's explanation smooths it over for Nash. Eyas is gone so Gale won't stay. That kind of order makes sense to the striped chestnut, whose forelegs catch and glisten on the tropical sunlight. If he casts a glance long enough, the same is true for Elegance and alerts her father to how far she has gone down along the black beach. His expression is pleased when he mentions Hyaline, just across the river from Taiga. "We'll be neighbors," he teases with a broad and beaming smile again. Turning his bright green eyes from his firstborn and towards his elder sibling, he asks curiously (and not forgetting Gale's earlier shift) "why Hyaline?"

    NASHUA
    [Image: jCdBK6.png]
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    #10
    Gale
    this is going to break me clean in two --
    this is going to bring me close to you



    Gale had once dreamed of passing the rule of Islandres to a child of his own, like the monarchs in the stories of the Old Times. It would be nice, to be raised along the black shores, to know no other place but Paradise. In those dreams, there was always a someone else, another parent ro the child, but more often than not the figure was a vague and shadowy thing.

    Gale had little interest in dreaming of a lover, and so there has never been a chance for a relationship at all, let alone a child. There are other wonderful things in life, he’d once told Tiercel. Like naps.

    Now, with responsibility of Islandres soon passing from his shoulders, he is thinking again about the child in his dreams.

    They’re both a little distracted, and if anything that makes Gale that much fonder of his sibling, for he is so often lost in thought or wonder in the world around him. Nashua’s confused ‘what’ is easily smoothed over, and a question follows.

    The full truth (that he is moving to Hyaline because Mazikeen is there and she has promised her help in assuring the simultaneous end of Gale’s life and end of the Curse that had killed Gale’s father and been the impetus behind Nashua’s existence) is not something he is ready to share on this bright summer morning.

    So instead he shares a smaller truth, a single word.

    “Mazikeen”

    With that word comes a smile though, one very like Nashua’s when he spoke of Noel. Gale had promised her he would return soon, and for a moment he is lost in thoughts of her. Before he is carried too far into imagining their reunion, he remembers Nashua and the present with a flush that would have been quite visible on a paler face.

    “She is...” A pause to find the perfect word, “phenomenal.” That isn’t quite enough, but it will do.


    @[Nashua]

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